AOSIS would like to contribute to Open Education Week (9-13 March) by offering some clarity on open-source software for e-learning. Andries Jansen, eLearning Manager at AOSIS, explains what an open-source LMS is – and what it isn’t.
Learning management system (LMS): A software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) education courses or training programmes.
What open source is NOT:
- Open source is not unlicenced code that floats around on the internet for everyone to use. To be really open source your code is licenced by the Open Source Initiative (see www.opensource.org).
- Open source is not free, as in free of cost – but rather is free to use as you like. There are numerous examples of commercial, for profit, open-source projects.
- Open source is not poor quality: open source needs to comply to strict standards in order to be licenced Open Source.
What open source IS:
- Open-source projects are regulated and supported by either a single body or a community, and in most cases by both. There may be headquarters where the main development takes place and then a community that contributes to the project.
- Open source is adaptable to your needs: you have access to the code, and you can modify/customise and use it as you please.
The main advantage of an open-source LMS is the fact that it can be customised to suit your needs. Every learning environment is unique, and there is no one cookie-cutter solution for all.
Open-source does not restrict you as to how you use your LMS or how many users you may have. On the other hand, when using a ‘closed source’ you can’t (for example) develop your own plugins or change how your students interact with the system yourself – you have to contact a partner, reseller or the original developers, which is both costly and time-consuming.
AOSIS eLearning is owned and managed by AOSIS, and is the Certified Moodle Partner for South Africa. In the 8th Annual Survey of Learning Tools, the Moodle LMS ranked top on the list (or best of breed) in the educational category, for course management. See the list of the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014 here: http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/best-of-breed/. Make mine a Moodle!